Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Comedian Lewis Black to perform in Northampton this Thursday

By Jessica Chaiken

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Comedian, actor and author Lewis Black will be performing stand-up at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton this Thursday, as part of his “The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth Tour.”

Black is famous for his angry and confrontational comedic style. His expressive and loud demeanor complements his performances, as he delves into angry rants about society, politics and just about anything and everything else.

Black, 68, was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Maryland by his parents, his mom a teacher and his dad a mechanical engineer. He was a colicky baby, something that foreshadowed the coarse, comedic rants that would later make him famous.

He developed a love for theater at an early age, leading him to pursue a career in drama. Black obtained degrees from the University of North Carolina and the Yale Drama School. He was an active stand-up performer during college, but comedy took a backseat to his drama career at the time.

Following college, Black set up camp in New York City, and became a playwright for the West Bank Café Downstairs Theater, where he helped to produce over 1,000 plays, including various original works. In the years following his career as a playwright in the field of theater, he began to focus more on comedy.

In 1996 came Black’s big break, a short segment on a new Comedy Central program called “The Daily Show,” where he could rant about whatever was bothering him for three minutes. This segment eventually came to be known as “Back in Black,” and is one of the show’s most popular segments to this day. Black has created and appeared in various other shows on Comedy Central, such as specials for “Comedy Central Presents,” and “Last Laugh with Lewis Black.”

In 2001 Black won the award for best male stand-up at the American Comedy Awards, following his success on Comedy Central.

Black’s increased publicity from “The Daily Show” then led to him scoring a record deal with Stand Up! Records, which began releasing his comedy albums. His critically acclaimed debut, “The White Album,” was released in 2000. In the years since, Black has released eight more stand-up albums.

Black has also received five Grammy nominations for his stand-up work, and has won two. Over the years, he has appeared on many late night TV shows aside from his regular appearances on “The Daily Show,” including “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

Aside from his stand-up and late-night television appearances, Black is also identified with a handful of memorable film roles. These include Ben Lewis, the fake dean in “Accepted,” and Eddie Langston in the Robin Williams film “Man of the Year.” Black’s most recent and popular role is, fittingly, the voice of anger in “Inside Out.”

As a strong supporter of several charities, Black has always made time in his busy touring and performing schedule to give back to the community. He is an active sponsor of The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Autism Speaks and The Michael J. Fox Foundation, among several others.

Black is still devoted to his alma mater, the University of North Carolina, and remains an active supporter of the performing arts division at the school. He also worked with student performers on campus to create the Carolina Comedy Festival.

Black has been bringing laughter around the country for over two decades, and has continued to do so on his current tour. It is not certain where else Black’s comedic career will go, but at the ripe age of 68, it is certainly nowhere near its end.

The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $49.50, and can be purchased through nbotickets.com.

Jessica Chaiken can be reached at [email protected]

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